A guide to what I'd buy if I only had $25 a month to spend on records. This time, one purchase takes care of it.
"BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN & THE E STREET BAND LIVE, 1975/1985" (Columbia), a five-record set widely discounted to $25 or less.
For weeks, I've been trying to decide whether Paul Simon's "Graceland" or Peter Gabriel's "So" was the best album of the year. Though I had named Springsteen's last three studio LPs as the best works of their respective years, I hadn't considered the "Live" album--in the weeks before its release--to be a contender.
Until now, even the most appealing live albums have lacked the ambition and range of studio recordings. And I couldn't imagine a live album living up to the absorbing nature of Springsteen's concerts. So how could a "disappointing" set be heralded as the year's most prized achievement?
Yet "Live" is a contender, perhaps the contender of 1986. It's an epic statement of rock's ideals, a thoughtfully assembled and passionately performed surge of songs documenting the expansion of Springsteen's artistic vision--from the young innocent of his 1975 club shows at the Roxy to the socially conscious observer of last year's stadium performances.